Persevering Positively

Today, the Grade 1’s went on a field trip to Lee Academy to visit our reading buddies. One of the special activities planned for this field trip was to play together in the snow. Lee Academy is a beautiful school on a huge property, and with all of the snow this winter, this playing activity was sure to be fun. Today though, challenged me in a way that I hadn’t expected. 

When we got off the bus at the school, one of the teachers told us that we were going to start with our short hike. Because of all of the snow and freezing rain yesterday, they changed the plans a bit, and this teacher quickly outlined for us the new plans. We needed to walk across the field to get to the trails. No problem! It started off easily enough, but then there were the snow drifts. At one point, I took a step and the snow was higher than my knee. Couple the height of the snow with the weight of my backpack, and I think that it was around this point that I toppled over … a comical sight for sure! 🙂 As I was sitting on my knees, I seriously considered two options:

  • Crawl across the snow. I noticed some students ahead of me that were doing just that!
  • Turn back and give up. I knew that I really couldn’t choose this option, but I was seriously contemplating how I could.

And that’s when I looked behind me at these six- and seven-year-olds that were “persevering.” 

  • They were falling down and getting back up again.
  • They were crawling along the snow when it became too deep.
  • They were kicking the snow out of the way, so that they had a flatter area to walk.
  • They were walking in other people’s footprints.

These Grade 1’s were problem solving, but their teacher was ready to give up. That didn’t sit right with me. 

That’s when I noticed a student from one of the other classes. I think that she had the same  initial thoughts that I did. She was stuck in one place on the path, and looking longingly at heading back towards the main doors of the school. So I went up to her and said, “Do you want to do this together?” And she did! She took my hand, and together, we made it through the snow. We both stumbled. We both fell down. We both benefitted from some encouraging words from other students and other staff members. But we both made it! 

You know what? It was kind of exhilarating to work through something hard — not even really school related — and make it out on top. On our way back to school today, I worked with one of my students to make a PicCollage about this “snow walking” experience. Together, we asked all of the students in our class, “How did you get through the deep snow?” My amazing EA, Melissa Wedgewood, and I even contributed an answer to the question.  While I was chuckling as I spoke and wrote my response, it was interesting to see what everyone said (and the words that they chose to use).


I notice how the students thought positively about problem solving and making it through the snow. I was negative though. I focused on falling, when maybe, I should have focused on getting back up again.

That’s exactly what a fellow teacher at my school, Frances Nicolaides, did after having a similar outdoor experience today. She went skiing for the first time with the Grade 6 and 7 students. Tonight, I happened to catch her Instagram post, which I asked if I could share here.

2015-03-04_19-27-35 2015-03-04_19-27-43Our conversation continued, and Frances spoke more about the importance of perseverance, and the impact that a teacher can have when he/she models this important skill.

2015-03-04_19-28-43 2015-03-04_19-29-06

Not only did Frances persevere, but she remembered to do so with a positive attitude. Positive words make a difference. I wish that I could change my word choice now. I may have been trying to be funny, but could the kids tell? Maybe not. I will say though, that like Frances, I’m glad that I struggled through the “snow hike” today, and I’m glad that I could do so with the Grade 1’s. I ask my students to “persevere” all of the time. One child even used this word when talking about how she made it through the deep snow today.

Today reminded me that students need to see how teachers struggle and persevere — inside and outside of the classroom — and maybe this will impact on their desire to do so as well. How do you model perseverance for your students? What impact do you see this having on them? Maybe a little struggle is a good thing … and a little struggle with a positive attitude is even better! 🙂



2 thoughts on “Persevering Positively

  1. Thank you again for the shout out, Aviva! It seems we both experienced what it’s like to be uncomfortable and struggle today! I really enjoy engaging with my students during field trips and extracurricular activities. It’s refreshing to see them in a dynamic that is different from the classroom environment. I learned a lot about myself and my students today. One thing that really struck me is how readily most of the kids took risks and persevered! They got off that lift and were flying down that hill in no time! (Albeit some more gracefully than others) I loved hearing the dialogue and positive support students were giving eachother. As you know, my students have been working on spreading #MarchGladness – a campaign to perform random acts of kindness. It was wonderful to see how readily students supported one another. At one point, one student said to me, “Miss, I’m going to be on this practice hill all day! I’m never going to go down the big hill!” This saddened me, as a kid I was never a natural athlete (and I’m still not). I remember feeling embarrassed not being able to do things that seemed to come so naturally to others. To this student I replied, “It’s okay because I’m learning too! We will stay here together until we both know how to go down the hill properly.” This student approached me later and thanked me. She said it “was nice to have a teacher that was just learning too, and could learn with the students.”

    As teachers, we need to show our vulnerability and discomfort. We need to struggle with our students and show them that perseverance pays off. It was also nice to see some kids that struggle to persevere in the classroom do so while skiing! It made me wonder, what can I do as a teacher to help them transfer this skill to our classroom? All of the kids showed grit and perservence. I am so proud! As the saying goes, “fall seven times, get up eight.”

    • Thanks for the comment, Frances! As I read your words here, I think again, “Wow! You need to start blogging professionally.” 🙂 Seriously, I always love what you share and your willingness to share your reflections and learning with others. It’s great hearing about the ski trip today and the impact that this trip had on so many students’ learning skills. It was wonderful that you could be there for those students that struggled, and that they got to see you being “vulnerable,” but also working through the struggle. I think that as teachers, we need to find more ways to model this for our students. I think about the popularity of the Maker Movement. I know that when I’ve had students involved in Maker Ed activities before, I usually conference with them as they work through their projects. I’d still want to, but I wonder if there’s a way to become involved in a project as well … maybe learning alongside, or even with, some of the students. As teachers, I think that we often model how to “take risks” and “persevere,” but we often do so in a very planned way. I think students can tell the difference between a “planned” and an “authentic” struggle, and for struggling students, they really need to see these authentic struggles.

      Now as for your question, I wonder what would happen if you had students reflect on their ski trip experiences. Could they identify the learning skills that they focused on today, and through discussion or quiet reflection, could they see the connection to in-class learning? Maybe for some struggle students, even brainstorming some ideas as a class would help. I wonder if knowing that these skills transfer to the classroom would have an impact on how much students persevere in class. Could this make a difference for student success? You have me wondering …


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *